Negotiating salaries – how much should I be paid?

Roll of moneyWe are often asked  “What is an appropriate salary for this job?”  Not just from students and graduates, sometimes businesses struggle with this too.

It’s a tricky question that depends on a lot of factors.

Let’s start with the labour market. 

What is the market value of that role, in that industry, in that location?

Try to find out:

  • What other companies are paying (check salary surveys – google is good for this)
  • Ok now other companies in the same sector (look at live job adverts with competitors – journals and job boards)
  • Other similar size companies
  • Other companies in that location. ( London salaries are highest usually and in general big cities pay more than small rural locations)

Here’s the health warning! Many sites and especially the media will use average figure taken from surveys.  This may be good data but it doesn’t tell you much about the distribution of those salaries. Were 2 companies paying over the market value for some reason, while everyone else is towards the bottom end?  It can create unrealistic expectations!

High flyers – surveys “ 100 of the UK’s best-known and most successful employers”, so it is not representative of the whole labour market and the sample size for some of the job roles could be quite small,  but it is current!

A whole bunch of them covering lots of different industries here

So let’s take an example – I want to find out how much I should be paid for marketing job in Manchester? 

First I googled “salary survey marketing”

Check the dates of the data – 2011 is getting a bit old, 2014 surveys may not be out yet, or not free anyway!

Salary survey 2013/14 creative and marketing industries:

What about in Manchester though

Prospects is usually a good place to look – have a look at the relevant occupational profile and look at the salary info (bear in mind it may be up to 2 years old)

Ok so I’ll look at some live vacancies here to see what’s on offer – there is an advanced search options so I can look by region too.  I’ll need to investigate the companies though to see if they are a similar size and offer similar services.

What are the terms and conditions?

  • How many hours a week do you work – 35-38 is fairly standard, but consultancy type roles may involve working weekends & nights to get the job done, 80 hours a week are not unheard of.
  • How many days holiday do you get? 28 days including statutory days is the minimum for full time work in the UK – it will differ overseas.
  • What are the probation and notice periods? Notice periods can be anything, but in most permanent contracts you would expect (after probation) it to be at least 1 month. It could be 3 months or even a year at senior level.
  • Does the job involve travel will you be expected to work away from home a lot or for long periods? (Who pays for your accommodation when you are away? Will you need to get someone to look after your  home/pets?)

Is salary all you get – or are there other perks?

  • Employer contributions pension scheme
  • Car allowance, travel schemes
  • Overtime payments
  • Gaining professional or postgraduate qualifications
  • Bonus schemes
  • Commission
  • Shares
  • Medical care
  • Company gym membership
  • Relocation expenses
  • Uniform or clothing allowance
  • Membership of professional bodies

How much do you want the job?

  • Do you have another job offer?  Are you in a strong bargaining position?
  • Can you afford to wait and see if another job comes up?
  • Is it in a location that is convenient? Do you need to relocate?
  • What is the cost of living like in that area? (accommodation, food, travel to work, social life, include travelling to see friends and family)
  • Is this a long or short term job, can you live on what they are offering now to get the experience?

So can you negotiate?

An employer will be evaluating all these things too, they may be in a position to negotiate or the figure may be fixed by the HR department who will have evaluated the market rate and the skills and experience required.

If there is room for negotiation it will probably be based on the market rate and how much they want you.  On large graduate schemes they have a lot of choice of candidates with very similar skill levels, so why should they pay you more?  A small company may just be recruiting 1 staff member; they may not recruit often and may be open to negotiating.

Use all the factors above to help you come to a figure. (Be realistic though, another candidate might be prepared to do it for less so you could price yourself out of the market!)

When you have considerable experience or have specialised in a particular area, you may become a valuable commodity, you may even be headhunted to work for a competitor!

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